I am honored that Marilyn Milos and Ken Brierly asked me to build the Genital Autonomy America website. They have been dear friends and clients for going on 20 years now, and it is a joy to work closely with such kindred souls as meticulous as I am and so easy to work with.
Custom website design is my thing. I hand code in all the major languages used in website design, and use packages developed and maintained by experts when doing so is better, cheaper, and kept up to date better than I could otherwise offer. Template sites, like WordPress have their place, and in the past couple of years have greatly improved thair offerings, but compared to the skills I have learned over the years they are still limited, and would require a long learning curve to learn their ways of doing things I already know how to do. I may find it worth the trip someday if they offer packages I need that won't fit into my process, but not today.
It is my aim to build, in collaboration with Marilyn, Ken and others who want to play with us, a custom site for GAA that serves their vision, mission, and principles in a unified, consistent, creative, and well executed format with excellent navigation, functionality, content and graphic design.
It has become increasingly clear that the time has come to join forces with the many other single-issue constituencies that share compatible visions, and seek to share resources in win-win arragements while maintaining our respective autonomy and focus. Link exchanges, blocks of code, affiliate and advisor lists, and of course mailing lists come to mind for starters.
Maybe our intense and meticulous effort will have it’s telepathic (There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreampt of in our poor philosophies) impact on all involved, especially as more and more of us are broadcasting our common vision of putting our precious time and energy into working together instead of squandering it in wasteful destructive battles that just make matters worse and sap our enthusiasm and trust.
For constructive collaborators on this project I strongly recommend some long studied principles which are nicely reviewed in 7 Key Principles That Make A Web Design Look Good A thoughtful read by all of us will hopefully quickly get us into smooth collaboration, on the same page as it were. In particular the 7th principle on unity and consistency is the most important and hardest to get a handle on.
Under time pressure I have decided, with Marilyn's approval, to do a rough cut of a more or less complete design option and spell out future plans for what we haven’t had time to implement yet. Then we will have a unified place-holder environment to work with in our collaborative detailed design refinements which should proceed faster and better than refining one piece at a time and having to go back every time another item doesn't fit well with it.
Here’s what I have in mind:
It seems important to me that we explore visual language in our website design.
Here’s some food for thought:
“...visual thinking is deeply ingrained in the human brain while speech is a relatively recent evolutionary development"
But that’s not all. In my studies of Neurolingustic Programming (NLP) it became clear that there is a 3rd mindset, kinesthetic, in which our “gut feelings” predominate when we communicate and make decisions. Many of us are predominantly tuned to either visual, verbal, or kinisthetic interpretations of the world and often have trouble communicating with folks in a different mode. If I’m predominantly visual and you’re verbal I might say “See what I mean” and you can’t hear me, and you might say “Hear what I’m saying” to deaf ears. The kinsthet wonders why nobody can feel what they are feeling. Of course we typically have some facility in all 3 modes, but often one predominates. I think we need to consciously address all three modes on the website. We already appreciate good graphics and well written text, but so far the kinesthetic is a bit elusive and just kind of falls where it may, not alwasys to good effect, like the use of fear tactics. Lets tell the story in words AND pictures AND dramtic impact wherever we can, like the best movies do. Someday we may even add smell-o-vision, a most potent kinesthetic sense.
We need to come up with a fitting metaphor for a unifying design theme in harmony with our Vision, Mission, and Principles AND so attractive, fascinating, and uplifting that visitors can’t tear themselves away, and want to come back often to see what’s new and contribute. My first thought is to make the site a heavily participatory hub and resource for exploring creative ideas from and for the communities we serve. Yes, it is vital to credibly present the well documented truth about relevant issues in order to effectively deal with them, but just as important is to dispel the “victim” mind set and focus on what we want, not what we don’t want.
We get what we dwell upon. So lets empower and celebrate the gift of being different, recognize the immense conributions of LGBT folks in the past and the staggering potential of freeing their special gifts from the slings, arrows, and scalpels of the mentally ill who fear, hate and mutilate them. All human progress has been made by non-conformists who have broken the cultural trance. Let’s pepper the site with the voices and creative fruits of a vital but undervalued and down-trodden community and their supporters.
I would like to see us incorporate related great quotes, inspirations, aphorisms, poetry, art, stories, essays, guest columns, forums, incentives, recognition, and other forms that evolve as the self-orgaizing process drives the website and GAA. This is inspired by the Maker Movement which is taking the world by storm as ordinary people get hooked on creating new things, collaborating online and creating Maker Spaces which are popping up all over the world. This spontaneous internet empowered self-organizing movement is changing the world. Kids love it and thrive on contributing to the movement and being recognized and praised. They are tomorrow’s world. As the voice of the people is heard, now that everyone with internet access has a global voice, and the means of production migrate to the individual, the big monster soul-killing corporations and their government toadies dwindle.
I built a 3D printer and now seldom have to buy overpriced parts and other plastic items, and I can invent things and take them to market if I want to go the entreprenuer route, which is fast becoming the best way to make a living in a world where all too soon the only jobs will be what computers can’t do.
Just rambling now, but getting closer to a process-oriented theme for creating a self-organizing “Uplift Movement” and “Uplift Spaces.” When folks see a better way they don’t have to be pushed into it, they can’t be stopped. We need to inspire, not force, divide, denigrate and dominate. For example, we could, in collaboration with our community, develop a template, forum, archives and resources for creating local “Uplift Spaces” that self-organize with one another and GA, and would evolve into the larger scope embracing all important personal and global issues and creative enterprises, like the Maker Movement. When an idea’s time has come, there’s no stopping it. Just look at the internet. Ours could be a model site and resource for others who share that vision.
The few more highly evolved, and usually more influential and well-healed, people who see, feel or listen to reason need to find it in our offerings. If they see, hear or feel that we are effectively uplifting the fear-driven herds they will want to help. I call this fund raising on steroids without pandering to the latest fads trying to attract tunnel-visioned investors that would lock us into mediocrity, or worse, to keep the cash flowing. Steve Jobs knew better. So should we. His mission was to change the world with insanely great products. After some bumpy initial years he succeeded against all odds and beyond all expectations. So can we.
Back to design ideas, I found a couple of color palettes that look like a good fit with the established colors of the logo and background: let them eat cake and pastel glass art which I like even more.
The separate Landing Page on my business site (which has many resources for web designers and videographers) is designed to nudge the Assemblage Point (have you read Castenada’s Don Juan books?) to break the cultural trance and disconnect the mind from wherever it was and give it a smooth ride into an uplifting and receptive tilt for proceeding into the site. It contains a fascinating artistic image with high non-verbal impact. It also contains a random “Quote of the Moment,” which updates when you click on it, from a library of 100’s of quotes I have collected over the years. This alone should inspire visual, verbal, and kinisthetic mode visitors to spend more than 10 seconds before even moving on, and reveal that this is no ordinary website and is likely to be worth some time. We should be able to come up with something even better.
The LGBTQ Task Force site has a nicely done carousel slide show above the fold which is mesmerizing—you want to see all the slides, and the first 10 seconds are in the bag. I can do that, but it may not be worth the considerable time and cost right now, or even be a good fit for us. However, scrolling down reveals a clean and simple grid of brief items descibing the meat of the site. Notice there is no long block of text which many visitors would just ignore. Long text blocks (like this one) can be intimidating to people in a hurry, but the same content chunked down is more likely to be read. The Home page needs to cover the important items only briefly with links to deeper coverage of whatever strikes the fancy of the visitor and can be delivered in longer chunks. We might try out a similar approach, but I don’t want to sacrifice opportunities for some scattered creative touches that may seem distracting until you realize they are in fact coordinated with and reinforce the unifying site theme and the items they are near. For example a relevant quote near a grid item. To invite creative input we need to provide some inspiring examples.
Another key element for me is painting the big picture of how GAA fits into GA fits into related finely focused projects fit in to national and global uplift projects fit in to the self-organizing universe/multi-verse/spiritual realm. Why? To give some hope to the many who feel overwhelmed and powerless in a world with a White House Full of Idiots, a sick world plagued by a centuries long epedemic of mental illness whose victims obsessively try to rule by fear or are ruled by fear and thus easily ruled and easily conditioned to commit murder on command in endless, very profitable, wars. It’s time to prove Hermann Goering wrong. There are growing pockets of sanity everywhere, ours is one of many, already on track for self-organizing with other uplifting projects. Instead of violently overthrowing a cruel society, which never works out well, we need to peacefully and courageously infiltrate with better ideas that suck support from the bad ones. Hating war won’t end war, only loving peace will end war. This could be one page.
Writing this (off the clock) has helped firm up some ideas, and I’m eager to start cranking. Of course I encourage all the constructive help we can get refining everything after I get this done. I'm sure Marilyn will have some different ideas, but I honor her demonstrated wisdom, compassion and success in changing the world for the better, and she has the last word with me. This will be a rough cut first draft, but the first to directly address unity and consistency as per item 7 of the 7 Key Principles, and a perhaps more refined vision of our possible mission and process.
One last thought from one of the most evolved teachers of all time, Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going” which, as Marilyn well knows from experience applies to women, or any gender, as well.
Am I making sense?
Do you see/hear/feel/resonate with these ideas?
Any unified theme ideas?
You can email me, or Marilyn, or use the Trouble Report or Comments link at the bottom of every regular page.
Peace and Love,